Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Keena has her ducks (pups) in a row

Things continue to go very well. Keena has a great appetite; she eats mainly Omas chicken mix and Omas Performance mix. She has less discharge and her temperature is normal.

She does not leave the whelping box at all except for very short bathroom breaks. She tries to carry some pups in her mouth, but she doeas it mainly to Blue Male. He is a very active, vocal pup, and I swear he was almost barking today.

Pups put on some weight and today at 4pm they were:

red 375 gr
green 365 gr
navy 335 gr
blue 360 gr

white 295 gr
pink 395 gr
yellow 335 gr

They look great, have nice features, and I am really impressed by their length of ribbing. I think they are all wires.

Monday, March 30, 2009

First 24 hours after whelping

First 24 hours after whelping are very important so today I stayed in my office most of the time because this is where the whelping box is.

The good thing is that Keena has an excellent appetite and takes a very good care of the pups. They nurse, and today they have not lost any weight (some loss of weight is expected within first 24 hours).

Keena has a lot of dark colored discharge, and just an hour ago she passed an afterbirth. I have to keep a close eye on her, and make sure that she does not get infection. But so far she is not showing any signs of not being well.

Keena and Theo's puppies are here

Keena whelped a litter of seven healthy puppies last night - four males and three females. Everybody seems to be doing well. Keena is eating a lot, and pups are nursing well.

Yesterday all day long Keena was going through the first stage of labor - shivering, nesting, throwing up. I noticed first contraction at 6:15 pm. When I palpated her she was dilated but there was no puppy in the birth canal yet. She had occasional contractions for the next 90 minutes but they were no strong and she was not stressed. Things were progressing well but at a slow pace. This is how it was with her first litter two years ago so I decided not to intervene. I gave her some oral calcium though, which would help with the strength of contractions.

The first puppy arrived at 8:10 pm and was presented "feet first", which is not abnormal. You can see one leg in the amniotic sac, which sticks out (picture to the left). Then the belly came out and I thought that the pup was well nourished. The belly was nice and round. Then the rest came out, and it was a girl. This was the largest pup in the litter at 13.4 oz. Usually our pups are in the range of 9-11 oz, but Keena and her dam Gilda do produce large pups. Ten minutes later we had another puppy, a male, weighing 11.2 oz. He got a green collar, and the female got pink one.

For the next delivery, Keena was on her back, slightly arched.

The pup came head first, and you can see his head through the amniotic sac. Actually the pup had his tongue sticking out. So at 8:45 pm Keena whelped a boy weighing 11.4 oz (navy ribbon).
Fifteen minutes later we had another girl weighing 11.2 oz (yellow).
I was amazed at he speed of whelping as within 50 minutes we got four puppies.

After the fourth puppy, we had a break. It gave Keena a chance to take care of her pups, clean them and let them nurse.

Puppy #5, a female at 9.6 oz, arrived at 10:20 pm.

Another male, a very vigorous pup, came out at 11:00 pm. He was 11.6 oz, and has a light blue ribbon around his neck.
After that there was a long break. I could palpate one more puppy, so around 1 am I gave Keena a shot of oxytocin, which brought the last puppy out few minutes later. It was a male at 12.0 oz (red ribbon). It took some work to get him out but he was vigorous and lively.

All in all it was a perfect whelping without any complications. We are so lucky!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Puppies at ten weeks

Today puppies are ten weeks old. We celebrated with a walk in the field, good lunch and playing session upstairs.

From left: Ollie, Olana, Oak and Olive

Ollie, Oak, Olana and Olive

update on Keena - Sunday

Sunday 8 am
No puppies yet. Keena has not had anything to eat in the last 20 hours. From 12 am to 1 am she was very uncomfortable, was nesting and throwing up a lot, and it looked like we were going to have puppies last night. I stayed up with her as she did not want to be alone. But then she got quiet, and the rest of the night was uneventful. She is calm and quiet now resting in the whelping box.

Sunday 11:30 pm
So far things are going really, really well. The first puppy arrived at 8:10 pm, and it was huge at 13.4 oz. Right now we have 6 puppies - 3 females and 3 males. But Keena is not done yet. I'll post a more detailed report tomorrow.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Blood tracking exercises for puppies

In the last few days puppies had a chance to do some tracking. The pictures show pups working a liver drag. At the end of the scent trail their reward was a deer tail.



Oak (red flag indicates a check)


Olana with her nose to ground


update on Keena

Today is day #61 since Keena's first breeding, and she is getting ready. Her temperature in the morning was 100.5. She refused her regular breakfast, and the only thing she accepted were chicken gizzards.

She tried to eat a bit later int he day but then she threw it up. She is uncomfortable but quiet.

My guess is that she might be whelping tomorrow but probably not tonight. Last time she had puppies, two years ago, this preparatory stage took Keena two days.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Puppies lose their whelping box (to Keena)

Since Keena is due to whelp within next few days, puppies had to give up their whelping box. Actually they like their new set-up a lot as they can see better what is going on around them. We created a small enclosure attached to the box with wood chips and put two dog beds and a crate there. This is where the pups spend their nights. Usually during the day they are outside in their puppy yard where they can play, run and bask in the sun.


Keena is carrying seven puppies

Keena is due to whelp this coming Monday-Tuesday, and today I took her to a vet to check how many pups we should expect. X-ray of her belly showed at least seven puppies. Wish us good luck! I hope that she is not going to whelp this weekend but it is a possibility.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Visit to Baker Institute for Animal Health

The last few days have been really busy for us and puppies, and it is time to catch up. Pups have had two training liver drags/blood lines. They are progressing nicely. Yesterday, however, we focused on a different aspect of dog breeding.

Puppies are 9.5 weeks old, and we noticed that Ollie's testicles have not descended into his scrotum yet. After I had done some reading on the topic, I contacted Dr. Vicki Meyers-Wallen from Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and made an appointment to bring in puppies and their parents.

Puppies are in top two crates and Emma and Joeri in the bottom two. Puppies took a three-hour-drive really well, and it was good socializing experience for them.
The James Baker Institute's website explains the condition called cryptorchidism:

Cryptorchidism is the failure of one or both testes to descend into the scrotum. It can occur as the only defect in male development (isolated cryptorchidism) or in association with other disorders of sexual development, such as PMDS or SRY-negative XXSR (above). In the dog, both testes normally descend into the scrotum by 2 weeks after birth (even though one can not easily feel them there at that time), but should certainly be detectable in the scrotum by 6 weeks of age. Since isolated cryptorchidism is the most prevalent inherited disorder of the reproductive system reported in dogs, it would be very helpful to have a DNA test to detect carriers of the causative mutations. The remainder of this text refers only to isolated cryptorchidism.

Based on the few pedigree studies in dogs and experimental studies in other animals, testis descent in the dog could be regulated by at least 3 known genes, as well as others that are presently unknown. Mutations in such genes impair the ability of the testes to descend, resulting in cryptorchidism. Delayed descent of the testes may be a less severe form of cryptorchidism, as it shown in some mouse studies. It has been shown in other animals, such as pigs and goats, that the prevalence of cryptorchidism in herds can be reduced over time by selecting against this trait. That is, cryptorchid animals and male and female parents of cryptorchid animals were not used as breeding stock. This approach has not been used extensively in purebred dogs. However, if both male and female carriers could be identified by a practical test, then one could more easily avoid producing affected offspring.

Bilaterally cryptorchid dogs have no testes in the scrotum and are sterile. Unilaterally cryptorchid dogs have one testis descended, and while of lower fertility, can reproduce. An undescended testis may lie within the inguinal (groin) area or within the abdomen and has an increased risk of developing tumors. Additionally, use of affected dogs as breeding stock can eventually lead to increasing numbers of unilaterally and bilaterally cryptorchid dogs in the line or breed. Therefore neutering of affected dogs (surgical removal of both testes) is recommended. To prevent surgically corrected cryptorchid dogs from being deceptively presented as normal, the American Veterinary Medical Association states that it is unethical for a veterinarian to surgically correct this condition without also neutering the animal. Although medical treatments have been proposed for this condition in the dog, there is no evidence that any are efficacious. It is important to note that neither surgery nor medical treatment will alter the affected dog’s genetic makeup. Thus, reproduction from affected dogs and medical treatment of affected dogs may not be in the long term best interest of the breeder, or the breed. Also, breeding of animals with late descending testes may produce more with this condition, and worse, dogs in which the testes fail to descend at all.

Our laboratory is collaborating with other investigators to identify mutations that cause cryptorchidism in dogs. We have not yet found mutations causing canine cryptorchidism, and need to examine DNA from more affected dogs, their related family members, and dogs of several breeds. All participants in our studies are purebred dogs, but their identity and that of their owners is held in strict confidence. Using DNA markers, linkage analysis and association studies, we are presently working to identify the chromosome location of genes responsible for canine cryptorchidism. Our final goal is to produce practical tests to easily identify male and female carriers of mutations that cause cryptorchidism. This will allow breeders to avoid production of cryptorchid offspring while maintaining the desirable traits in their line and breed.

Testis descent is a complex developmental process likely to involve several genes, including those directly controlling testosterone synthesis, the androgen receptor (AR), insulin-like factor 3 (INSL3) and its receptor (GREAT) and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). For example, any genes encoding enzymes in the steroidogenic pathway leading to testosterone production or stimulating INSL3 secretion could theoretically be involved. Mutations affecting factors listed above account for only a small percentage of human cryptorchidism, so additional genes are likely to be involved, and none has been identified as causative of canine cryptorchidism.

Dr. Vicki Meyers-Wallen examined Oak and Ollie, and blood was collected from them and their parents, Joeri and Emma, for DNA studies.

Above: Ollie is being examined by Vicki Meyers-Wallen. Below: a blood sample is collected from Ollie for DNA studies.

Puppies will be going to their new homes in the 2nd and 3rd week of April, so we will be able to monitor Ollie's testicles for a while yet. They may come down eventually, but basically he should not be used for breeding, and he will be sold on the limited registration.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

More puppies on the way

This is going to be a very busy spring as soon we are going to have two more litters. Keena (white collar) is due around March 31 and Gilda (orange collar) is due on April 8. As the pictures show, both girls are very much pregnant, and they are doing really well.

Keena, even though looking as a small balloon, is very playful and loves to interact with younger males - Joeri and Tommy. The picture shows her playing with Joeri.

I will be taking her to a vet for an X-ray this coming Friday so we know how many puppies she carries. Also we'll alert the vets that we might need help even though I really hope that everything goes smoothly. This is going to be Keena's second litter. In the first litter, two years ago, she had seven puppies, and the whelping went without any problems.

Keena loves to bask in the sun, stretch and rest on her back. It is nice to see her in such a good shape, so relaxed and happy.

Gilda is Keena's dam, and she was bred to Billy. This is a repeat breeding that produced Keena. She looks big for her stage of pregnancy as she still has 2.5 weeks to go. Gilda has aways whelped with ease, and she is an excellent mother. In her last litter she had six puppies but she looks "more pregnant" this time.

As you see this blog is going to be very busy as we will be raising two litters at the same time, and Emma's puppies are going to stay with us for the next 2-3 weeks. Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Potpourri of puppies' activities

Ollie at the end of a liver drag is enjoying his prize.



It is important that at this age puppies spend some time with us, individually, away from the pack. The picture shows Olive with her toy.

Olive getting into a trouble.

Old mail boxes make good rabbit feeders.

Ollie is checking this rabbit feeder.

Olana is checking out what's under this brush pile

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A new toy for puppies is a hit

Yesterday when I was shopping at Sam's Club I saw a bin with huge plush toys. One of them was this jumbo gator, around 5 feet long. Well, I could not help myself. I know that over the years all pups have loved the huge plush rabbit that we have. I thought that the gator is going to be even better. Today I put it on the lawn and brought pups out, one at a time. I was curious how they would react to the unusal and strange object. As it turned out, each pup walked to the gator and started to play without any hesitation. Olive (to the left) started to bite the toy, and Olana (next picture) was quick to hump it.

Ollie climbed on the top of it...

and Oak did the same thing.



I was flattered because pups found me more interesting than the gator and tried to engage me to play. Only when I brought out the whole group, the real fun started.